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It took less than two weeks - my first disagreement with Joshua’s school: pathetic Floppy the dog

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 20 September 2021

Homework comes once a week from the Pest’s school here in Wales. It could be worse. Over the border among the infidels of England some of his peers have started at the Primary on the other side of the bridge and there for the fist two weeks the 5 year olds have been doing just two hours a day as “induction”. Apparently that is all about stopping the spread of covid, the plague which has killed almost nobody under the age of 10.  

The teachers of the under 6 classes at Farndon Primary also had not one but THREE INSET days after their long summer break. With that hard training and having to work just two hours a day for the first two weeks of term they must be exhausted. Poor loves. Give the heroes another bumper pat rise.

But back to Holt and my first row. For his weekly homework the Pest has to practice some words and letters and I admit that he is not flying on the letters department. But he also has to read a book with mum or dad. We read it last night. It was called Floppy and was about seven pages long. On every page was the word Floppy plus either Oh or No, or Floppy. And then a picture of Floppy the dog doing something.

Joshua had read it in school and recognised the word Floppy so getting him to spell it out again was pointless and No and Oh are not exactly demanding. So it is not helping him with letters and it really is not increasing his vocabulary or his process of thought in any way. Here at home each night, we read a chapter from a Roald Dahl or from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. W e have already completed the first three of the series by the great American libertarian and are now ploughing through “On the Shores of Silver Lake”.

And so we discuss what is a horse thief, locusts, fish traps, how terrified Laura was travelling at 20 mph on a train, the ideas of self reliance and other concepts. That gives my son a wider vocabulary and also makes him think about problems. We can relate the plague of locusts at Plum Creek to the fecking caterpillars at the Welsh Hovel and how they have obliterated my kale. We can discuss the nature of chores. We also read stories from the bible and so discuss the true meaning of a parable, of what the Good Samaritan or the lost Sheep means for us in the modern world.

I am not saying that the Pest is a genius but Floppy the dog is wasting his time. I wonder what the other parents think? I suspect some might agree with me, but I wonder if any of them dare speak out. I have made my thoughts clear in the homework book I have to return each Monday with my comments and also flagged up my position with the teacher. No doubt I shall be told that I am the only parent complaining and my position is just plain wrong. It is only a matter of time before it is pointed out to me that Dahl – who did actually fight Nazis – was a Nazi and that the Christian libertarianism and belief in small Government of Laura Ingalls makes her inappropriate and irrelevant in the modern world.

At my State primary back in Byfield my mother ended up taking me out of some classes for extra lessons given by her as the schooling was so piss poor. I hope that is not to be my fate here.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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